Column: Don’t crown Geno Smith the Heisman winner yet

By Michael Carvelli

There aren’t many words you can use to describe Geno Smith’s performance against Baylor other than “perfect.”

It’s becoming a common occurrence to see the senior signal caller look masterful, running the West Virginia offense better than any other Mountaineer has ever done.

All throughout Smith’s 656-yard, eight-touchdown performance, during which he completed 88 percent of his 51 pass attempts, he had the college football world buzzing. Even head
coach Dana Holgorsen, who always would be able to point out one or two things Smith could have improved on in the first two games, couldn’t see anything after the game he could’ve improved.

“Can you please tell me how you can improve on that?” Holgorsen said during his postgame press conference after reading Smith’s stat line.

You probably can’t.

But even with the record-shattering pace that Smith has started the 2012 season with, people should not be too quick to name the WVU quarterback this year’s Heisman Trophy winner.

With the exception of a neutral-site game against James Madison in September, the Mountaineers have yet to play a game away from Milan Puskar Stadium. And they haven’t exactly been playing the best defenses in the nation either.

WVU’s opponents through the first four games are giving up 263 yards per game through the air.

After the game, reporters called Smith’s performance against the Bears his “Heisman moment,” but can that really come against a team that gives up more than 400 passing yards per game?

Yes, Geno has been by far the best player in the nation through the
first four games of the season.

Yes, if the Heisman was given out today, Smith would win it.

But it’s also true that no award in any sport is given out prematurely more often than the Heisman Trophy.

We’ll be able to learn a lot more about how much better he really is this year pretty soon when
West Virginia is in the bulk of the Big 12 Conference schedule against some of the better pass defenses in the nation this year.

For this week, it’s Texas. The Longhorns are one of the country’s top 50 pass defenses, and more importantly, it’s going to be the first time the Mountaineers have entered a truly hostile road environment since Smith lined up under guard against LSU in
Baton Rouge as a sophomore.

Smith has grown a lot since then. He’s more poised and keeps his composure better than any quarterback in college football. But it will still be interesting to see how well he does when he’s faced with his first third-and-long situation and has to deal with the crowd at Texas Memorial Stadium.

Things won’t get much easier for Smith after this week, either, as the rest of the Mountaineers’ schedule consists of three of the 20 best pass defenses in the nation.

To be fair there’s a very good chance that Smith will be able to continue putting on performances like he has in the first few games.

But he won’t be able to make some of the throws he’s been able to make against Marshall, James Madison, Maryland and Baylor.

When the Mountaineers take on Texas, Oklahoma and some of the other tough defenses that the Big 12 has to offer, he’ll have to be close to perfect.

The things with which he’s been able to get away so easily won’t be so easy anymore. The time he has to sit in the pocket and go through his progressions might be less and less.

Through the first four games, we’ve seen the best version of Geno Smith we’ve ever seen. But now and through the rest of the season, we’re going to get to see what he’s really made of.

More often than not, the player who has stood onstage in New York City accepting the Heisman Trophy has asserted himself against the best competition in the country to be the best player in college football.

Starting this week, Geno has his chance to do that.

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